Sunday, April 13, 2008

CTS Conference, Canmore Alberta, 2008

I have just returned from Canmore where 5 of my students and I attended the 2008 Career and Technology Studies (CTS) Conference. I have mentioned before that my students have prepared and presented a presentation entitled Issues Facing Business Education. In February they presented at the WESTCAST conference and as a result they were invited to the Alberta CTS Conference in Canmore.

The CTS area appears to be an amalgamation of Business Education, Home Economics, Cosmetology, and Industrial Arts (perhaps amongst others - to say I was confused is understating things).

My students presented to a number of people who were interested in the issues they brought forward and the discussion was lively.

That's the good news.

The disturbing news is that this conference showed me a future that is very bleak for Business Educators. Most teachers I spoke to there considered themselves CTS teachers and were hard pressed to voluntarily identify themselves as Business Education teachers. In fact the majority that I spoke to weren't - they were Phys. Ed or Maths prepared teachers who either 'fell into' business education or have an interest in technology (read that as computers and software) and started to teach business classes.

By definition CTS instructors focus on careers. The information provided from all quarters pointed teachers to career pathways to which their courses should be linked. I have no problem with career preparation but having this as the only perspective regarding Business Education limits and defines Business Education in ways that are proving, in my opinion, to make a well-rounded business education unsustainable perhaps even unattainable.

In a career oriented environment there seems to be little place for personal financial management, the study of business as a ubiquitous environment, 'consumer' approaches to marketing and entrepreneurship, etc. It seems in this environment that if the course isn't providing usable career oriented skills then the course doesn't work.

And even in the courses that did fit the career perspective (in particular the technology courses) there seemed to be very little if any business context provided. Teachers spoke about teaching spreadsheets, data bases, desktop publishing in dissociated and technical terms. No one that I spoke with saw these as tools for solving business problems and when this topic was brought up very few saw this approach as a reasonable one for at least two reasons: primary reason - they didn't have the business background, secondary reason - that's not the way the curriculum is written!

My students are hoping to revitalize the Business Education area. I hope they are successful. To say the least I believe the first step is to liberate Business Education from the confinements of the Career and/or Practical education environment.

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Anonymous Dan Benesh said...

Another way we can hopefully improve our business ed position is with this Personal Financial curriculum. Before you retire, I really hope that all of us can find a way to make this teachable and mandatory in schools!

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...that's not the way the curriculum is written! What a comment! I thought that Alberta was supposed to be the leader of new ideas in education! However, Alberta does have 3 strands of Math: Core Math for those going on to study Sciences/Engineering, and the other two strands are Business Math or Applied Math(trades math). So I can see why math teachers would be attending this conference.

What is the point of learning technical/software skills such as creating a data base, spreadsheet etc... if you are not going to use it in a relevant situation to solve an actual "BUSINESS PROBLEM"?
If students are to gain anything from these types of classes they should realize that in the business world these applications are not "STAND ALONE" tools. They are used together to provide efficient and effective solutions to business needs.

I am also concerned about the future of business education. It seems that Information Processing is losing students to CPT as students see this as the exciting and "cool thing". Some students view Information Processing as dull and boring. They think of it as "typing" as don't see its relevance at this point in their life. Most will not use the skills learned in IP classes until they make it to the work world. Just telling them they can key their essays/reports faster or more efficiently isn't going to convince them to take IP. We need to find a new way to promote IP if we are going to attract students to this class.

Most administrators see Business Education as IP or Typing. They don't really understand the other offerings such as Entrepreneurship, Career and Work Exploration etc... The main reason for thier lack of knowledge is that they don't have a background in the area. If we are to promote Business Ed we need more people with the knowledge of business ed in admin positions.

As for the Personal Finance Course... maybe sending some of the stats regarding the bankruptcy rate for people under the age of 28 to the Minister of Eduction would open some eyes. The emotional, financial and general societal problems caused by personal bankruptcy should be reason enough to include this class in our curriculum. As a former banker, I have seen first hand the devastation caused by financial ruin. Families suffer and the cost to society is great!

Wow! I guess that was a long and disjointed rant! Bye for now.


11:14 PM  
Anonymous Zelda said...

Good post.

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Интересно написано....но многое остается непонятнымb

11:20 AM  

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